$512M Power Pact Moves Pasadena, Calif., Closer to Carbon-Free

(TNS) — Pasadena got significantly closer to its goal of sourcing 100% of its energy needs from carbon-free power by the end of 2030 but is still expected to have some reliance on fossil fuels until new technologies emerge.

The Pasadena City Council voted to approve a $512 million, 20-year contract that will allow Pasadena Water and Power to purchase solar photovoltaic energy and battery storage from Bonanza Solar.

The contract, approved unanimously at the council’s Feb. 26 meeting, will provide a maximum of 105 megawatts of solar power and up to four hours of dispatchable battery energy not to exceed 55 megawatts. The deal is set to begin on Dec. 31, 2027, when the 300MW Bonanza Project located in Clark County, Nevada, is expected to start operations.


“This solar agreement is an important step forward in meeting our goal to source 100% of Pasadena’s electricity from carbon-free sources by the end of 2030,” Mayor Victor Gordo said. “This contract is especially timely considering Pasadena’s exit from the Intermountain Power Project. The city, Pasadena Water and Power, and the residents of Pasadena are committed to a clean energy future.”

The contract aims to replace the 108 MW of energy that will be lost when the city leaves the IPP coal-fired plant power agreement in June 2027, on its way to meeting its renewable energy goals to be implemented in its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan.

Pasadena’s 2023 IRP, governing how the city will meet its energy needs, was approved in December, but will get an update this year following protest from climate activists who pushed the plan to go further in meeting renewable energy goals.

While the plan approved by the council meets all the required climate change goals, it relies on assumptions of significant resource acquisition, capital upgrades, infrastructure improvements and technology advancements that may not pan out.

Because of this, it includes “waypoints” in 2026 and 2028 where PWP and policy makers can review their assumptions and make adjustments, along with a dashboard to track progress.

Pasadena Water and Power is expected to return to the city council with an “optimized” version of the plan by June 2024, to hire a third-party, green energy consultant to review the updated IRP, and to bring regular updates to the city council and municipal services committee.

Replacing the coal-powered energy from the IPP, and finding a way to shut down the gas-fired Glenarm — which is what allows PWP to meet state requirements for reliable backup energy sources available when power is strained — will be among the biggest challenges to meeting renewable energy needs.

Last year, Pasadena Water and Power entered into a 15-year, $312 million power sale agreement with northern California power provider Calpine Geysers, LLC, to provide 25 MW of geothermal energy per year.

According to City Manager Miguel Marquez, with recent projects expected to come online soon and other energy contracts still being negotiated, the city is 70% to 95% of the way toward replacing IPP’s energy production and reaching the city’s renewable energy goals.

“Emerging technology — at scale, commercially available, green dispatchable energy. That’s what is really going to allow us to get to that 100% reliability,” he said. “Right now, unfortunately, we don’t have that but folks are working on that every day. So we’re gonna get close, but we’re going to have that dispatchable energy need that right now is only carbon based.”

©2024 The Whittier Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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